Campbell released from fiscal emergency

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CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) — For the first time in almost a decade, the city of Campbell is officially financially stable.

In a special meeting Wednesday evening, the Ohio State Auditor’s office announced it will no longer oversee the city’s finances because it has emerged from fiscal emergency. While under the designation, the city could not make any financial decisions without approval from the auditor’s office.

The city was placed in fiscal emergency on June 10, 2004, because of aggregate deficits in seven funds totaling $598,128.

The road has not been an easy one for the city. It had to meet multiple requirements and pass four separate stages to get out of the fiscal emergency, including having a financial forecast and revamping its financial accounting and reporting system. That step that had 45 comments, or steps, alone.

Campbell used a combination of budget cuts and new revenue sources to reduce their deficits, including:

  • City Council waived its health insurance coverage, saving $34,000 annually per council member
  • Fleet and fire insurance was moved to a consortium, saving $25,000 annually
  • Instituted a garbage fee and water meter charge to increase annual revenue by $100,000
  • Instituted delinquent income tax payment programs, generating $66,000 in 2010 and $51,000 in 2012.

Although the city is in the clear, officials know that this is just another beginning, not an end.

“The criteria of all this is not over. We cannot act like a drunken sailor and just start spending money. You have to stay in line,” said Campbell Mayor William Van Such.

“You are never really safe. It is never really fixed forever. They are on the right track, but there is plenty of road left yet,” said Ohio Auditor Dave Yost.

Yost commended city leaders for leading by example. He said the thing he was most impressed with about the city of Campbell is that they led from the top. For the first time in the city’s history, Council voted not to take health insurance, which saved the city more than $100,000 annually.

“That is just huge. That is leading by example and reaffirms my faith that there is still good stuff going on in Ohio’s cities,” Yost said.

“I am just happy. I am happy that I had the chance to sit on the council at this time. We are getting it going even better and we ain’t stopping here. We are going to make sure those zeroes  never appear again,” said 3rd Ward Councilman Joseph Mazzocca Jr.

Van Such said the emergence from fiscal emergency was a joint effort and took everyone’s cooperation.

“I do not want to say it’s a burden, but it is very stressful.  It is part of the job, but it is very stressful because no matter what you do, the decisions that were made, somebody had to get hurt,” Van Such said.

“Especially when people that are working for the city have not had raises in 13 to 14 years. I said this is not the right time. Other councilmen finally backed me up on that and we got it going on,” Mazzocca said.

Van Such and council members stressed that although this is a joyous time for the city, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the city remains financially stable.

To eliminate its fiscal emergency status, the city also utilized local government borrowing in a measure of last resort, receiving $747,000, which was repaid to the state in 2012.

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